Rob Holding has to do something to boost his Arsenal career, and he may not get another opportunity beyond the FA Cup Final against Chelsea.
I’ve been making a big deal out of Rob Holding lately, but I feel like it’s completely justified given the state that Arsenal is in. With so many centerbacks on the roster and so many injured, this club has to sort through the murk to figure out the best way forward.
And Rob Holding is set squarely on the fence, not leaning one way or the other as far as if he’s a part of the future, or a part of the funding of the future.
With Shkodran Mustafi out injured, this is Holding’s time. He has been very hit-and-miss in his defensive endeavors. He’s had some pretty exceptional performances, including flattening Sadio Mane, and he’s had some pretty awful performances.
But it’s a very clear awful. As in, his problems come from working in a back three that requires the mobility that Mustafi has and Holding clearly doesn’t.
When he is tasked with carrying the ball, he gets into trouble. He’s just not a mobile guy.
If he’s not tasked with moving that much, if he can just hunker down and defend, he’s just fine. He’s a quality defender. That’s when he flourishes.
The problem is, we don’t know how much this back three is here to stay with Mikel Arteta, or if it is at all. It may just be a desperation, “what else do we have?” kind of decision. But I have to believe that Arteta wants to get back to the back four with a centerback pairing. Which Holding would fit well into.
The question, however, is if Arteta sees Holding as a viable choice in that regard, or if he might be better served as a bit of a fundraiser. We have other defenders, we’re getting other defenders. We may not need Holding.
But then again we might. And while you never want to hinge an entire decision based on one performance, a strong showing in an uncomfortable back three would be a miracle to keeping Rob Holding around and not trying to find someone else to fit the role.
It’s a tough call, but it all comes to a head against Chelsea. This is either the last we’ll see of Holding, or the start of his professional and consistent career at Arsenal.